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Finding the Source

One Man’s Quest for Healing in West Africa

Written by Dave Kobrenski

5 stars based on 21 reviews

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Somewhere in Africa, the blacksmith’s widow is rumored to still be alive. And her dark magic is Dave’s last hope of ending a twenty-year curse. If only he can find her.

Deep in the heart of West Africa, there is a power as old as the Earth. This is a land where ancestors walk among the living and impish spirits dwell in the forest. Occult knowledge is guarded by secret societies, and blacksmith artists carve sacred masks that invoke deities. Here, art is magic…and it is not for the uninitiated.

An ocean away, Dave is a struggling artist who longs for adventure in distant places. When fate brings him to West Africa, his dream becomes a reality, and he’s drawn into a world of ritual drumming, ancient traditions, and vodoun magic. But the dream soon turns into a nightmare.

The mysterious illness comes on violently. As Dave convulses with pain, the villagers call it a curse, suspecting sorcery or ancestor spirits. At first, Dave’s not so sure. Back in America, his doctors lead him down a dangerous road of pharmaceuticals and opioid painkillers, but the condition only worsens. As the years go by, Dave’s suspicions deepen, and he must decide. Was it really a curse that beset him all those years ago?

Facing a life of disability and heartbreak, Dave’s final desperate quest for healing brings him back to West Africa to answer that question. To find the source, he must question everything he thinks he knows, and put his trust in the words of a shaman and in spiritual forces he’s not sure exist. But in the end, it’s his own demons he must confront, before the curse finally destroys him.

A spellbinding account of an artist’s unconventional journey through West Africa to overcome a debilitating illness—and to find the true source of his pain.

“Compelling reading…a work that often has a captivating sense of immediacy.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Kobrenski writes with great charm and is an enlightening guide to aspects of African life with particularly fascinating investigations into the history of voudoun and ritual magic.”

“A book that will inspire seekers whose lives are touched by chronic illness.”
Publishers Weekly

Look inside the book


A Special and Profound Book

I feel so grateful to have found this book. It was so riveting that I had a hard time putting it down. I loved the rich language that helped me visualize the West African culture and traditions as well as his courageous journey through illness. Thank you for allowing me to join this journey

Betsy Gemmecke • on February 21, 2024

Profound. Deeply Moving.

This was a powerful read. I struggled to put the book down and wanted more. More of the journey, more grief, more laughs, more teaching, more music, more art, more musical instruments and much more Africa. Thank you for providing all of us with the opportunity to accompany you on your 20 year search to find the cure you were looking for. Lastly, thank you for the powerful life lessons.

Theresa Weed • on August 7, 2022

Gifts from afar, on a journey to heal!

Oh the layers of story, emotion and life lessons this book has brought to my life are in-valuble. Excellent and captivating read, emotional journey through culture, relationships, pain and geography. Perfect for book group, read aloud, to yourself with a cup of tea or on the throne! Cant say enough good things about this gift from across the sea that Dave has brought back to the states to share and lived to tell the tale!! Thank you Dave

Bree Heward • on August 5, 2022

Africa Comes Alive

A beautiful read that flows well, is nearly impossible to put down, and which describes Africa so well that I felt like I was there watching from the shadows. It is raw and honest and emotional. I highly recommend it!

Nicole Swan • on July 3, 2022

Dave is like a bridge…

Riveting! Compelling! I could not put this book down. Dave’s personal journey of seeking physical, emotional, and spiritual health is necessarily interwoven with his experience in Africa and the truths he learns there. Vivid descriptions of West Africa’s sights and sounds brought memories of my own trip to Ghana rushing back. If you’ve never been to West Africa, this book can take you there. Dave is like a bridge connecting people, cultures, and worlds. He has humbly and extraordinarily immersed himself in the rhythmic and musical language of this region. His commitment to honoring his teachers and the ancestors helps keep this music alive and in the world. Thank you, Dave!!

Leah Ivory • on April 18, 2022

A tale of true magic in the face of all odds.

“Inspiring & insightful. A tale of true magic and overcoming all odds - a deeply moving and richly told narrative with unique perspectives on spiritual healing, western medicine, African music & the clash between the modern world and ancient traditional wisdom.”

Jordan Birch • on April 5, 2022

A powerful book!

I loved this book so much. I could not put it down. It is such a compelling story of one person’s struggle with chronic illness but touches on so much more. This story encourages us to look into our shadows to find the source. It will be an inspiration for anyone on a healing journey. It gave me so much to reflect on in regards to my own struggles and my journey with healing. Dave’s writing is so humorous and joyful, he had me laughing out loud many times and also made me weep. It touches all the feels. You will be grateful you read this book.

Jennifer Johnson • on March 28, 2022

A must read

This book grabs you from the first page! One man’s journey through life, from an adventurous soul. He shows us how different cultures live - their strong belief systems, that sustain the human soul in good times and bad. Dave bares his soul as he travels through pain in his own difficult times.
A must read!!!

Mary McIntosh • on March 13, 2022

Loved this book

This is not just a scholarly, enchanting, and suspenseful adventure but a spiritual journey inward. The character’s work to document and preserve a vanishing culture takes an unexpected turn. He is personally drawn deeper into the secrets of human origins than few if any in the Western world have been privy to. This nonfictional tale will creep into your dreams and change the way you think.

Jamie Notarthomas • on March 5, 2022


I found this story fascinating and I wanted to keep reading more. Dave Kobrenski has woven the ancient past of different cultures with the reality of modern life in the U.S., creating a rich tapestry of images upon which his story plays out. Kobrenski juxtaposes traditional healing practices with modern medicine peppered with well researched history and information, and questions everything in the context of his personal struggle to find love and health. The subsequent story that is told from all of these ingredients is compelling and deeply moving.

Alexis • on March 4, 2022

A Must Read!

Dave, your delivery of words held me, always wondering if you were going to surface.

Twenty years to learn the lessons, that haunted you, to come to the realization, that you were your own demon. But also realizing that it took beyond amazing stamina to push through ankylosing spondylitis in a masterful way with your drumming, your flute, and your art work, as your healers, along with the ancestors, elders and current healers.

Your humor shone through with a freshness, like bubbles of water, and was so very entertaining. I bubbled with your light spirit, when it opened and revealed itself through your heavy veil of fear.

Your in-depth research verified your brilliant mind, and your youthful written delivery, is what kept me reading.

I was a traveler alongside you, throughout your book, as I experienced a similar journey, through Africa, and South America.

Your book is a must read.

Nancy Child • on February 25, 2022

A profound journey

I could not put this book down. With the eye of an ethnographer, Dave Kobrenski details an African landscape and her people, sketching their portraits and recording their music as he travels. But this is not an ordinary memoire. This book is a profound and searching adventure, where Kobrenski takes on the archetypal quest of the hero’s journey as he enters a mysterious cultural terrain that is not his own. There he struggles to make meaning out of inner and outer realities that become blurred but gradually become a road map to deeper understanding. But ultimately this is a love story. Full of guarded and broken hearts, the ordeals and sacrifices courageously resurrect into the deepest power of love in self solidarity, friendship, and sonship.

Jacqueline D. • on February 4, 2022

Stunning, Extraordinary, Devastating

How seldom is one invited to share in the thoughts and feelings of another human, one who simply (but courageously) seeks a life free of pain? The record of this journey, this book, is a gift to the many of us who take their everyday health for granted. Dave Kobrenski adventures his way back and forth from the northeast US to Guinea, Africa, leaving a cultural record for us that feels equal parts: Mickey Hart, Wade Davis, and Indiana Jones!

Dr. Jonathan Lorentz • on January 27, 2022

A Path to Healing - Finding the Source

Traveling through Western Africa with Dave has brought me a deeper cultural understanding and a refreshing spiritual awareness that occurs through his many experiences and reinforces my own beliefs. This exceptional and talented man has given me a new perspective on dealing with personal demons. Healing is possible! One could only hope to have Dave’s wisdom and courage to dig deep into oneself with such strength and determination.
I am grateful that Dave shared his journey with us, he’s so much more than an adventurous traveler, he challenges us to leave this world a better place.

Cathy Hollinshead • on January 24, 2022

A page turner! I could not put it down!

A real life adventure story at it’s best! I could not put this one down! Vivid descriptions carried me along for the journey. I feel I’ve been to Africa and back with Dave and appreciate the lessons on culture, history, world issues, health and healing he weaves with the magic of his words. A must read!

Meg Simone • on January 22, 2022

A rich story that needs to be told

I received an advance review copy, and I read it through in one night, mostly in tears. This is a rich tale that weaves together Western medicine, traditional healing, shamanism, ancient cultures and modern science, along with a good dose of plain American grit. It doesn’t hurt that Dave’s a skilled writer, and I can’t imagine what the process of writing it must have been like for him, but he held me through every page.

Doug S. • on January 19, 2022

Truly inspiring.

The story, at once, offers the realization and serves as a reminder that the fulcrum of humanity is courage. An adventure in search of wisdom sans expiration gives way to the great depth of the need to heal. Truly inspiring!

Michael • on January 15, 2022

A Beautiful & Compelling Healing Journey

From the very first page, Finding the Source by Dave Kobrenski pulls the reader into a unique and beautifully written narrative about healing the body and soul. Dave’s lyrical prose weaves an unexpected story of how Dave ended up living in Africa, falling in love with the people he met there, and uncovering the source of the pain that ruled his reality. The impact of living with unrelenting pain is not an easily-shared concept, but Dave manages to powerfully convey just that. I felt as if I was following Dave as he undertook these physical, emotional and spiritual journeys - he shines a light on the highs and lows of his travels and you can see his growth as his story progresses. This is a beautiful book that needs to be shared widely!

Jess Bacon • on January 15, 2022

A powerful healing adventure

Finding the Source is a powerful healing adventure that takes many well-positioned opportunities to shed light on western medicine’s short-sided perspectives on health and wellness. Through the author’s deep reverence for Africa and her traditions we, the reader, begin to understand new wisdom as it relates to rest, healing and the mind, body and spirit connection. I loved this book and was all in to join him on this wild, risky and beautiful journey to find the source of his pain and the source of his healing. The book is a beautiful reminder that often the answers we seek have been inside of us the whole time.

Amy Grill • on January 15, 2022

A beautiful glimpse into what's important in life.

Through this exciting adventure, we are given a beautiful glimpse into what’s important in life. This story provides a wake-up call from the illusion of what we tend to describe as, “advanced societies,” and reminds us how to be humble, grateful, and ultimately, happy. Finding the Source is a must-read for anyone interested in the teachings of traditional cultures or for anyone who feels they are stuck in a rut. Dave’s journey is full of excitement, struggle, and happiness that will bring hope to anyone who reads it.

Mike • on January 14, 2022

Dave's very real journey - FINDING THE SOURCE

Having known Dave since he was in college, I got to read the book early. That also means I knew of the trials he of which he writes , the travels, the illness, the people, the personal cost to this splendid tale. His talents fine tune. The best of the story, which I loved, is how it all comes together, and we, the readers benefit, and learn.

Judith R. Birch • on January 13, 2022

Book Details

Artemisia Books
Publish Date:
April 12, 2022

About the Author

Dave Kobrenski is an artist and musician who loves a good adventure and travels to West Africa frequently. When he’s not traveling, he makes art and music, builds flutes, writes and illustrates books, and hangs out with shamans and healers whenever possible.

Dave’s first book is called Djoliba Crossing, and his book of drawings and essays from West Africa is called Drawing on Culture. Both books are available at and online wherever books are sold.

Dave lives in northern New Hampshire with his wife Karissa, his stepson Noah, and their three cats.